Paul interrupted his in-depth dissertation on the universal need of the gospel and the way to be saved by grace through faith in Christ, by devoting three chapters to Israel, the nation God elected to fulfil His plans and purposes. He details their past history (chapter 9), their present status (chapter 10), their future salvation (chapter 11), and the long-suffering mercy of God towards His chosen nation.
He begins this diversion into God’s sovereign choice of Israel as His peculiar people and their adoption as God’s sons, by listing their many privileges. They were chosen out of all the nations to receive the Law of God. To them was given the Priesthood, Temple worship, the feasts of the Lord, and the promise of a Messiah Who would come through the patriarchs; Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David. Through them, all the families of the earth would be blessed.
Starting with Abraham whose faith was reckoned as righteousness, Paul begins to expound God’s sovereign choice of Isaac over Ishmael, and Jacob over Esau, and explains the difference between the spiritual seed of Abraham and the natural descendents of these great patriarchs.
By skilfully laying down the origin of Israel and their role in God’s plan of redemption, Paul is emphasising the importance of God’s sovereign choice by selecting Isaac as the child of promise rather than Ishmael, and His choice of Jacob over his brother Esau.
Jacob and Esau were twins and the natural line of succession is normally the older over the younger, but in verse 9 we read that Jacob, the younger brother, was God’s choice over Esau, the firstborn: “For though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad…” the Lord purposed that Jacob would be the father of Israel, through whom all things would be accomplished.
God demonstrated His sovereign choice through Abraham, when He determined that the child of promise would come through Sarah (his wife) and not Hagar (his concubine). And Jacob was chosen to be the child of promise before birth. This was to show that God’s choice did not rest on the good or bad behaviour of Issac’s twins, but on God’s sovereign election and His pre-determined selection.
The line of succession did not rest on the good or bad works of Rebekah’s twins, or their seniority. God’s election of Jacob as the founding patriarch of His chosen nation, rested on God’s choice,not on the character, conduct, natural descent, or human merit of either Jacob or Esau. Jacob was chosen to be Israel’s founding father before he was born; before he could say or do anything good or bad to influence God’s choice.
In a similar way, salvation is not dependent on our good or bad works nor on our parentage. God alone determined that the wages of guilty sinners is death, and He also determined that salvation would be His gift of grace, through faith alone in His only begotten Son, and that nothing in our character, conduct, natural descent, or human merit, would influence or affect our salvation.
Just as God sovereignly selected Jacob without any outside influence, so also He sovereignly dictates the conditions of our salvation, which is a gift of His grace ALONE to ALL who believe. Salvation is by grace ALONE, through faith ALONE, in Christ ALONE because God determined it to be so. All you have to do to receive it is to believe in the Person of Christ and His sacrificial work on the Cross, and you will be saved.
Heavenly Father, what a comfort to know that nothing will influence Your purpose and plan of redemption, just as there was nothing to influence Your sovereign choice of Jacob over Esau. Thank You that my salvation is not determined by my character, conduct, natural descent, or human merit, but was determined by You, to be a gift of Your grace to all who believe on the Person and Work of the Lord Jesus Christ. I pray that I may live a life that honours Your name. In Jesus’ name I pray, AMEN.